The Lead

As of writing, the results of a Telegraph poll asking whether Roy Hodgson is the right candidate for the England job read 50/50, straight down the middle for and against. News of the FA’s approach to West Brom to ask for Hodgson’s hand was met largely with resignation, equivocation, and then, in roughly half of those interested in this story at all, the revelation there simply is no one currently better suited to manage England.

To wit, the inner conflict over a now-likely Hodgson appointment goes roughly like this. Hodgson has managed about nine hundred teams (well, 17, in earnest, in 8 different countries) since first haunting Halmstad’s technical area thirty-six years ago. Since that time, he has earned a 43% win rate (Redknapp’s is just under 41%, but then Shteve McClaren’s is 44%). His entire career is a testament to the fact that—as I’ve written countless times this past year—there is no such thing as a perfect manager for all teams across all possible worlds (unless you’re Jose Mourinho). With some clubs (Fulham) he made an excellent match; at others (Udinese), he lasted mere months in charge. If you knew nothing of Hodgson save from what you knew about him on paper, there would be no question over his candidacy for the England job.

However, there is the “Woy” factor. Hodgson is not exactly known as a technical sophisticate. Several English journalists speculated that part of his relative six month “failure” at Liverpool was down to his old fashioned training regimen, which didn’t align with the more modern practices which Liverpool’s continental players were used to. Then there’s that lisp, his odd personal quirks. His visage doesn’t fit the Greco-Roman mold, and so the England divas with their hand lotions and their Gaultier man bags will never listen to him.

Which sounds a bit…stupid, to me. English players, despite their considerable individual talents (and, all too often, egos), are not technically-gifted. There was also ample evidence that Fabio Capello-as-authority figure didn’t stop grumblings about the captaincy or team selection from the usual suspects within the England camp. No one is expecting Roy Hodgson will win things with England, but it’s hard to see how he won’t play to their strengths. Hodgson’s greatest successes came from taking unlikely and often-unloved teams to unexpected success in spite of their inherent weaknesses. In a country with 1/10th of the UEFA licenses as Spain, Hodgson seems even more than Redknapp the right guy at the right time.

Canada

Toronto FC coughs up last minute goal to RSL, loses 3-2, matches worst ever MLS season start.

I think Daniel Squizzato sums up the mood down TFC way nicely.

Aron Winter made three changes to the side.

Waking the Red says it’s Gut Check time.

Ninety minutes of therapy for Whitecaps’ fans.

Montreal Impact in the meantime look the business, winning 2-0 against the Timbers.

England

Harry Redknapp bears no grudge against Hodgson in light of the FA approach.

The Podolski move to Arsenal is confirmed.

Carlos Tevez wants to stay at Manchester City.

Ryan Giggs laments turning title race with City into a “soap opera” (which would make tonight the tram crash episode).

Mancini is psychic.

Italy

Paolo Bandini on the continued bizarre race for third place in Serie A.

Fabio Quagliarella has extended his contract with Juventus.

The Ibra/Cassano partnernship picks up where it left off.

Germany

Arjen Robben’s future with Bayern uncertain following altercation with Franck Ribery.

Cometh the hour, cometh Shinji Kagawa.

Round up of the weekend’s Bundesliga action.

Spain

Phil Ball looks at the full implications of Pep’s departure from Barcelona.

Swiss Ramble and the “truth” about debt and the Spanish Big Two.

Spanish stars at risk of burning out?

Bits and bobs

Puyol preserves quite a bit of dignity here.

Drunk fan hugs Luis Suarez, does, erm, “other things” afterward.

Eto’o celebrates with a policeman’s hat in Russia.

And that, give or take, is the story so far…